Rapid manufacturing will be the driving force behind the growth of the rapid prototyping equipment markets, according to Frost & Sullivan. In 2006 this market earned $300 million and should reach $859.4 million by 2013. Rapid manufacturing is expected to become mainstream in the future according the research firm.
"Even though rapid prototyping has been adopted early on by the automotive and aerospace markets, research indicates that only a handful of companies, about 15% to 20% of the end users worldwide, have taken advantage of the various rapid prototyping technologies," noted S.Vidyasankar, a senior research analyst at Frost & Sullivan. "This clearly demonstrates that the technology's potential has not reached the end users over the years, and thus highlights the need to elevate their awareness levels."
Rapid manufacturing is particularly useful when the part complexity is difficult to conceive in traditional manufacturing processes. And as 3D printers become price competitive ranging from $15,000 to $60,000, small companies find them extremely affordable to use for concept modeling and design optimization. In addition, the use of additive fabrication technology to directly manufacture the product has become increasingly popular, especially for low volume applications.
"There is also an increasing interest and growing trend toward services within the rapid prototyping market," noted Vidyasankar. "Even though many participants work closely with service bureaus, customers have forced rapid prototyping equipment manufacturers to provide services.